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The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a devastating impact on Australian businesses and people. The Australian federal and state governments have been imposing additional restrictions on Australians and businesses. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced that the government expects these restrictions to last up to six months.

Businesses need to be proactive in adapting their strategies and business models to ensure business continues and customer demand is met. Many businesses have looked at taking their services online such as gyms now providing online fitness classes, restaurants and cafes moving to home delivery of meals, and even adjusting the business model to meet a new manufacturing or service need.

While businesses evaluate how to adapt their business in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to consider the legal consequences of what they decide to do and ensure the correct steps are being taken. If proper practice is not followed, there may be serious impacts for businesses further down the track.

employment

Many businesses are reshaping their business model to suit the current Australian climate. As a result, businesses may require their employees to take on different roles than they were hired for. If you intend on adjusting the role of your employees, you should consider the obligations you have as an employer and whether you are entitled to make these changes. Our Employment team is here to help you with any questions you may have regarding these obligations.

privacy

If your business is planning on moving to a digital environment or changing the way it acquires customer information, it is imperative that you ensure your privacy policy is adjusted to reflect the new information you may acquire or have access to. Our Privacy team is well-equipped to assist you in reviewing your current privacy policy or creating a new one to ensure compliance with privacy laws.

terms and conditions

Should your business decide to change the goods or services it provides, your business’ terms and conditions of sale and use should be reviewed and amended accordingly. This will ensure your business’ rights are protected and that each party’s responsibilities are properly set out. This means if anything were to go awry in the future, the trading documentation is clear on what the next steps are and minimises disruption to the day to day running of your business. Our Trade team is skilled in adapting contracts and terms to mitigate future risks.

supply and distribution

Some manufacturers are adjusting their businesses to accommodate the production of supplies currently in need, such as hand sanitiser, ventilators and face masks. If you are a manufacturer intending on adjusting your business model in such a way, you will need to consider the long-term impact of the supply and distribution agreements you enter into. In particular, distributors will require you to meet certain standards, and you must consider whether your organisation is equipped to do so. You should also ensure your business meets any new product and safety standards, understand the product liability your business is accountable for and consider any council restrictions imposed or permits required.

Likewise, if you are a business who can no longer acquire goods from your supplier, you might currently be looking at entering into short-term supply agreements with other manufacturers and producers to get goods and services out to your customers. It is important in this instance to seek guidance on the terms you will be bound by under new supply and distribution agreements, and consider the implications if you wish to end the agreements early.

Our Trade team has in-depth experience on advising businesses on what they can and can’t do when introducing a new product or service and on consumer regulation requirements.

trade marks

If your business is changing its service or goods offering, you need to consider whether your current trade mark portfolio protects your expanded use of the mark. This is particularly relevant if you choose to offer your goods or services online but do not have trade mark protection for online retail. Our Intellectual Property team are skilled advisors who can assist in ensuring any change to your business operation will not infringe on the trade mark use of any other business.

Although now is a busy time for businesses as they enact strategies to counteract the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that businesses consider the future problems that such changes may make. If you require any assistance adapting your business to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us and we can discuss what legal and strategic steps you need to consider.

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COVID-19: What to consider when adapting your business model

25 March 2020
emma berry

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a devastating impact on Australian businesses and people. The Australian federal and state governments have been imposing additional restrictions on Australians and businesses. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced that the government expects these restrictions to last up to six months.

Businesses need to be proactive in adapting their strategies and business models to ensure business continues and customer demand is met. Many businesses have looked at taking their services online such as gyms now providing online fitness classes, restaurants and cafes moving to home delivery of meals, and even adjusting the business model to meet a new manufacturing or service need.

While businesses evaluate how to adapt their business in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to consider the legal consequences of what they decide to do and ensure the correct steps are being taken. If proper practice is not followed, there may be serious impacts for businesses further down the track.

employment

Many businesses are reshaping their business model to suit the current Australian climate. As a result, businesses may require their employees to take on different roles than they were hired for. If you intend on adjusting the role of your employees, you should consider the obligations you have as an employer and whether you are entitled to make these changes. Our Employment team is here to help you with any questions you may have regarding these obligations.

privacy

If your business is planning on moving to a digital environment or changing the way it acquires customer information, it is imperative that you ensure your privacy policy is adjusted to reflect the new information you may acquire or have access to. Our Privacy team is well-equipped to assist you in reviewing your current privacy policy or creating a new one to ensure compliance with privacy laws.

terms and conditions

Should your business decide to change the goods or services it provides, your business’ terms and conditions of sale and use should be reviewed and amended accordingly. This will ensure your business’ rights are protected and that each party’s responsibilities are properly set out. This means if anything were to go awry in the future, the trading documentation is clear on what the next steps are and minimises disruption to the day to day running of your business. Our Trade team is skilled in adapting contracts and terms to mitigate future risks.

supply and distribution

Some manufacturers are adjusting their businesses to accommodate the production of supplies currently in need, such as hand sanitiser, ventilators and face masks. If you are a manufacturer intending on adjusting your business model in such a way, you will need to consider the long-term impact of the supply and distribution agreements you enter into. In particular, distributors will require you to meet certain standards, and you must consider whether your organisation is equipped to do so. You should also ensure your business meets any new product and safety standards, understand the product liability your business is accountable for and consider any council restrictions imposed or permits required.

Likewise, if you are a business who can no longer acquire goods from your supplier, you might currently be looking at entering into short-term supply agreements with other manufacturers and producers to get goods and services out to your customers. It is important in this instance to seek guidance on the terms you will be bound by under new supply and distribution agreements, and consider the implications if you wish to end the agreements early.

Our Trade team has in-depth experience on advising businesses on what they can and can’t do when introducing a new product or service and on consumer regulation requirements.

trade marks

If your business is changing its service or goods offering, you need to consider whether your current trade mark portfolio protects your expanded use of the mark. This is particularly relevant if you choose to offer your goods or services online but do not have trade mark protection for online retail. Our Intellectual Property team are skilled advisors who can assist in ensuring any change to your business operation will not infringe on the trade mark use of any other business.

Although now is a busy time for businesses as they enact strategies to counteract the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that businesses consider the future problems that such changes may make. If you require any assistance adapting your business to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us and we can discuss what legal and strategic steps you need to consider.